Bagan is an ancient city located in the Mandalay Region of Myanmar. It consists in over 2,200 temples and pagodas that were built from the 9th to 13th centuries, when the city was the capital of the Pagan Kingdom, that would later constitute modern Myanmar.
This archaeological park is a main tourist attraction of the country and often is compared to Angkor Wat in Cambodia. The price to enter the site in February 2017 was 25.000 kyats, about 15€, and is valid for 5 days since the date of issue. You must show the ticket in the most popular temples. All the temples are Buddhist, some of them have Hindu influences, so bear in mind women must cover the knees and shoulders to enter the site.
There are two nearby towns with available accommodation to stay: Old Bagan and Nyaung U. The second one is more popular for backpackers travelling on a budget. The best way to explore the temples is on your own, as you can tailor your itinerary and avoid the crowds. There are few travel agencies in Nyaung U where you can rent a bike for 1.000 kyats or an electric bike for 6.000 kyats per day.
In case you need any advice to decide which temples are worth a visit, this is a list of my five favorite temples in Bagan.
It was built in the 12th century and it´s considered Bagan’s holiest temple. Inside the temple there are four giant standing Buddhas adorned with gold leafs. Each of them faces a direction from north to south, representing the attainment of a state of nirvana. There are 15000 sculptures carved in the stones of the temple corridors describing episodes from the life of the Buddha. The temple also has the most impressive wall paintings of the whole archaeological park.
This pagoda was built in the 11th century and contains five terraces and a cylindrical stupa on the top. It is the most famous sunset view point in the complex and it gets really crowded with package tours that luckily, leave right after the sun hides in the horizon, leaving the temple almost empty to enjoy the magical post sunset view over Bagan.
Also known as “the Omniscient” was built in the mid-12th century and it the tallest pagoda of the complex with 66 meters high. The temple has two primary storeys and you can enjoy a beautiful view from the second one.
Pyathadar is a very popular temple among tourist to admire Bagan´s magical sunset. This monastery was built in the 13th century and has a heavy Hindu influence in its designed.
Ywa Haung Gyi
I loved the bright interior of this 12th century pagoda, which features multiple arch windows. It has a second storey terrace that offers a beautiful view several other temples of the site.